Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

Northwestern University: Spotlight on Women in Science & Modern Career Paths

Women in Science Career Panel, from left to right: Dr. Stacey Tobin, Dr. Sadie Wignall, Dr. Stephanie Knezz, Dr. Dimitra Georganopoulou, and Dr. Jen Griffiths.

We recently visited the Department of Chemistry at Northwestern University, where we hosted a day of educational activities for graduate students and postdocs, including a career panel of women in science who chose to follow a range of traditional and alternative career paths.  Dr. Jen Griffiths from our Washington, DC office shared insights into the world of scholarly publishing and was joined by Northwestern alumni in traditional and non-traditional careers. During this engaging, informal session, attendees were able to ask questions, learn about challenges and opportunities the representatives had encountered, and hear some great advice and tips from successful women in science.


“I realized fairly early on that an academic career wasn’t for me, and I started seeking out seminars and roundtables on ‘alternative careers.’ “


Dr. Stacey Tobin noticed that unlike a lot of her peers, she really enjoyed writing as a graduate student. “I realized fairly early on that an academic career wasn’t for me, and I started seeking out seminars and roundtables on ‘alternative careers,'” she said. “One focused specifically on science writing, and the entire panel was made up of PhDs who found careers in various types of science writing—from journalism to regulatory writing, continuing medical education to advertising.” She also joined professional organizations as a student member, including the American Medical Writers Association and the Council for Science Editors, to take advantage of their educational programs and sought outside opportunities to write. “I contributed articles to the department newsletter, and took any opportunity I could to write and edit.”  Stacey built up her reputation as a skilled writer and knowledgeable scientist before starting her own firm, The Tobin Touch.


“When I discovered that I wanted my career to focus on teaching, I found my campus program that focuses on STEM teaching opportunities for graduate students and post-docs.” 


One common thread of the discussion was the importance of pursuing opportunities outside the lab to both discover interests and talents, as well as to gain practical experience. Dr. Stephanie Knezz, Assistant Professor of Instruction and Co-Director of General Chemistry Laboratory at Northwestern University says, “When I discovered that I wanted my career to focus on teaching, I found my campus program that focuses on STEM teaching opportunities for graduate students and post-docs. I was able to implement a project at a local community college “flipping” a traditional chemistry class and working on the corresponding curriculum development for a few lessons in the course.” She says that the experience not only gave her a better idea of the duties of an instructor and but also inspired a renewed motivation to continue her degree now that she could focus on a specific career goal.


“I’ve found that networking can be a great way to learn about career possibilities, and that informational interviews can be very helpful for learning about day-to-day aspects of a career.”


Dr. Sarah Kamper now oversees intellectual property protection for various chemistry and materials technologies as Invention Manager at the Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO) at Northwestern. “I learned about IP law through attending a career panel focused on careers outside of academia or industry.” she says. “It sounded like a great way to stay connected to science while transitioning into more translational aspects away from the bench.”  Sarah also realized the power of networking by talking with former members of her lab who worked at law firms in tech transfer. “I’ve found that networking can be a great way to learn about career possibilities, and that informational interviews can be very helpful for learning about day-to-day aspects of a career.” Sarah also suggests looking to campus groups as a way to begin networking: “If anyone is unsure of where to start, some organizations have student or young professional networking events where you can efficiently meet many people in a few hours!”


“My best piece of advice is to figure out what aspect of your science you are most passionate about, find opportunities where you can get first-hand experience delving into that aspect, and use careful time management to make it work with your research.” 


We also asked the panelists what actions they recommend students take or what was especially helpful to focus on for graduate students and postdocs. Stephanie suggested spending some time and effort to uncover your interests and finding ways to take advantage of related opportunities. “My best piece of advice is to figure out what aspect of your science you are most passionate about, find opportunities where you can get first-hand experience delving into that aspect, and use careful time management to make it work with your research.” And she added, “If you are doing something you love (even if it’s not at the bench), you will almost definitely be more efficient in the lab than if you’re coming to lab everyday with the primary goal of just ‘getting through it.’ ”

 

 

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New Program: Meet the Editor

Recently, we have reformatted our Roadshows to focus more on our Editorial Boards. We have now held several “Meet the Editor” events with our Board Members, and are planning more:

 

These interactive presentations are geared primarily towards graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, but are also valuable to early career faculty and even to seasoned publishing veterans. During the event, a staff member from our office leads the discussion with tips on publishing, all the way from elements of a good cover letter to guidelines for revising your article. But the most important part is having our Editors there to give personal advice and share their experiences around making editorial decisions and common mistakes submitting authors might make. The workshops provide a transparent view into the life-cycle of a manuscript and real insights and tips from our experienced Associate Editors. In most cases, our Editors also give scientific talks in the department we are visiting.

The McGill event featured Jean-Francois Masson, Associate Editor of Analyst, and Professor Davit Zargarian,  Associate Editor of New Journal of Chemistry, and was included as part of a full Scholarly Communication Day. The program took place during Open Access Week, and highlighted the ins-and-outs of the open science movement and included other workshops to help foster and facilitate open communication and collaboration. These included workshops on “Scientific Storytelling” and “Crafting Your Elevator Pitch” as well as a casual “Networking Lunch” where attendees from 5 different Montreal-area schools had a chance to practice their networking skills and meet local peers.

 

Dr. Jenny Lee gives an interactive presentation on publishing in high-quality journals with Prof. Jean-Francois Masson and Prof. Davit Zargarian at McGill University in October 2017.

 

During the Columbia event, we were delighted to have Professor James McCusker, Associate Editor of Chemical Science share his helpful insights from his editorial experience. Professor Sanat Kumar, Associate Editor for Soft Matter and Professor Alissa Park, who serves on the Advisory Board of Sustainable Energy & Fuels as well as an Associate Editor of the ACS journal, Energy & Fuels, also chimed in to give a diverse range of editorial viewpoints. Professor McCusker also gave a scientific talk and we presented an overview of careers in publishing during this visit.

We are already planning several upcoming Meet the Editor events around North America and hope to have even more to come. If your department is planning to host an RSC Associate Editor and would like to include these activities, let us and the Editor know you would like to add a time for us to give a talk or informal lunch discussion with tips on publishing! Contact our Americas team (americas-editorial@rsc.org) for more information.

 

 

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